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HCAs renamed in Northumbria’s new nursing strategy


Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has rebadged its healthcare assistants as part of a new nursing strategy that outlines the importance of compassionate care.

Nurses from across the trust gathered to officially launch the strategy on Tuesday, to mark International Nurses’ Day.

The trust said the strategy put a renewed focus on patients being at the heart of everything nurses do, high quality care and support available to help nurses develop.

It is centred on the trust’s five core values of “respect”, “everyone’s contribution counts”, “responsibility and accountability”, “patients first” and “safe and high quality care”.

The strategy also recognises the key role that HCAs play in delivering high quality patient care by renaming them “nursing assistants”, said the trust.

“We are publicly acknowledging the valuable role HCAs play in helping us deliver high quality care”

Rosemary Stephenson

The move chimes with views recently aired by politicians in favour of introducing a senior HCA role, which has also been likened to the old state enrolled nurse job.

Rosemary Stephenson, director of nursing at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “It is immensity important for us to recognise the contribution of each and every member of our teams and by changing the name of our healthcare assistants to nursing assistants, we are publicly acknowledging the valuable role they play in helping us deliver high quality care to our patients.”

Mary Younger, who has worked as an HCA with the trust for seven-and-a-half years, said: “The role of healthcare assistant has developed over the years and we are a key part of the nursing team.

“I am delighted that our enhanced role is being publicly recognised by this change of name and look forward to continuing to develop my skills further,” she said.

The new role of nursing assistants comes after the trust launched its own bespoke training programme and “care certificate”.

Northumbria Healthcare is one of the largest trusts in the country with more than 5,000 nurses, midwives and health visitors caring for patients in hospitals and in the community across.


Readers' comments (14)

  • Purely cosmetic! Wouldn't it be better to actually *train* them, or am I missing something?

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  • Excellent news, a nurse in my eyes is someone who cares for people in a professional capacity, regardless of whether they have a qualification or not. I'd like to know the reasoning for changing the terminology to HCA in the first place.

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  • Afraid I'm with Lily44; a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet but afraid only a nurse is trained to a certain capacity. I think an awful lot has gone wrong with nurse training since I qualified in the '80s and one of the worst thing to happen was the abandonment of SENs and making the profession graduate only. On the one hand HCAs (or nursing assistants) have variable training and are not regulated, on the other you can be a nurse and hold a degree but you don't need a degree to be a good nurse... Sorry but nursing assistants are still HCAs, not nurses.

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  • Nursing is the practice of caring for the sick. Now whether you do that as a registered Nurse or unregistered should not detract from the core essence of what we all do- care for the sick.
    I never believed in that aloof terminilogy-Health care support workers or health care assistants. We are nurses both registered and unregistered.
    Nursing Assistant is a better terminology for nurses who assist registered nurses in providing patient care.
    There are nursing assistants whose training, work experience and specialty place them very highly in the nursing team even above some registered nurses. They do ECG's Cannulation and Venepuncture , Patient Obs, etc.
    The impression given by some commentators seems to suggest nursing assistants have no relevant training .
    That is complete nonsense.
    Well done Northumbria Trust for correcting the anomaly in nomenclature for Nursing Assistants

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  • As a registered nurse, I prefer the title of nursing assistants, because that's what they are. A job title probably shouldn't have any influence on how people view their role, but I firmly believe it does. I may be wrong, or my memory is not serving me well, but when this title was used in the past, we didn't have this 'us and them' divide, which seems to be these days, at times.

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  • I was a nursing assistant when I started working for the NHS 18 years ago
    then they changed it to HCA don't think it makes any diff

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  • I think this is another backward step. If a nursing assistant is to be trained why not do it properly and call them Enrolled Nurses who were, and are, extremely valuable? A Health Care Assistant is different in that they provide assistance to nurses as well as OTs, Physios, etc, not just nurses. It seems the UK health care system tries to keep reinventing itself but really just goes around in circles. It was a huge mistake to get rid of Enrolled Nurses, face the mistake and bring them back. BUT we also need health care assistants to assist a range of health professionals.

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  • As a registered nurse I have worked as an HCA before and during training the qualified with a diploma . I have now completed my degree in my own time.
    Call us what you like but surely it is the care and compassion that matters . the patients often don't remember us but they do remember how we made them feel. I have met and worked with HCA's nursing assistants and nurses that really need to find a new career, I have also worked with HCA's, nursing assistants and nurses that are most excellent and go well beyond the call of duty, are caring, compassionate and professional to the core.
    Surely like Lily44 suggests is the name not just cosmetic it is the person behind the name that counts

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  • Some nurses have become such snobs these days with titles. If someone is rendering care to a patient in a Nursing capacity, then surely that role should reflect what they do.

    If we want to work together as a team, then we must consider the valuable contribution others make in developing and shaping practice. As Registered Nurses, we must nurture a team to ensure they feel competent, confident, valued and significant in the role.

    I'm keen on development and wish anyone success given development opportunities. If it stands to benefit the patient and the team respectively, excellent.

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  • Objections to this have absolutely nothing to do with "aloof terminology" or "snobbery" as some contributers here allege(as if!). Nursing can't function without effective teamwork

    However it's critically important that patients, their relatives and colleagues know immediately who they're dealing without having to think twice. You can bet your life that in time the term "Nursing Assistant" will invariably be shortened to "Nurse". This will lead to potential errors of communication and danger to patients/clients/service users.

    The Northumbria measure is well intended but beware the law of unintended consequences.

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